Three barred from disclosing information about aircraft lessor

Court hears three tried to divert business from Stellwagen while working for it

Aviation financier Howard Millar will have an opportunity to respond in court on Tuesday to Stellwagen’s claims.

Aviation financier Howard Millar will have an opportunity to respond in court on Tuesday to Stellwagen’s claims.

 

Aviation financier Howard Millar and two others attempted to divert business away from their employer, aircraft leasing group Stellwagen, it was claimed in the High Court.

Mr Millar, who was former Ryanair chief financial officer, Edward Hansom and Edward Coughlan, left Dublin- and US-based Stellwagen last month.

The High Court issued a series of interim orders on Thursday barring all three from disclosing information on Stellwagen to others and from interfering in its relationship with clients, investors, staff or commercial partners.

The court also prohibited the three from representing the company, which provides airlines with finance to buy aircraft, or from deleting information or data belonging to it. Stellwagen sought the orders at a hearing that did not involve its three former executives.

Its chief executive, Douglas Brennan, alleges in an affidavit that the group discovered a “concerted” effort by the three to divert valuable business away from their employer, in direct conflict with their legal obligations.

Mr Brennan states that this began with their co-ordinated resignations on September 4th.

Mr Millar, Mr Hansom and Mr Coughlan will have an opportunity to respond on Tuesday next, when the matter is due back before the High Court. The interim orders apply until then.

Mr Brennan’s affidavit indicates that Mr Millar maintains that the company constructively dismissed him at a meeting on August 31st. Stellwagen denies this.

Mr Hansom and Mr Coughlan had been directors of several Stellwagen group companies since 2014.

Mr Howard joined last year as chief operating officer of Stellwagen Group Ltd, a director of another of its companies and a member of its executive committee.

Gardening leave

Mr Brennan states that following their resignations, Stellwagen put the men on “gardening leave” and reminded them of their ongoing legal obligations.

On Monday, October 9th, Mr Brennan claims that Stellwagen discovered plans drafted in August for a new business, Airgreen, on what had been Mr Coughlan’s company laptop.

These indicated that Mr Millar was to have been chief executive, Mr Hansom chief risk officer and Mr Coughlan as chief commercial officer.

He also says that emails discovered following their resignation show that Mr Millar and Mr Coughlan misrepresented the progress that they were making on talks with the Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) to set up a leasing business in the United Arab Emirates.

They claimed progress was slow, but Stellwagen says correspondence from Mustafa Kheriba of the ADFG indicates there had been progress, including a proposal that the company provide $20 million as a founding shareholder.

Stellwagen’s chief executive also alleges that the company found details that appeared to show the three had arranged to lease two craft to African airline Air Senegal.

The deal was to have been approved on September 4th, while the craft were to be delivered and the rent payments begun on December 7th, a few days after the three men’s gardening leave ended.

None of the three discussed the deal with senior management or the company’s lawyers, which was the usual practice with a transaction of that size.

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